I’m having a bit of a decision making battle with myself. I’m looking to paint my living room and as I was laying tape down on the trim I saw a piece of wallpaper coming up in a very tucked away spot. I figured not much harm done in pulling it off.

Underneath is what I’m assuming is both another layer of wallpaper (the lower vertical stripes) and something else entirely that doesn’t appear to go all the way up.

My question for you all is, should I risk removing this for the whole room? I heard it might be a pain to remove and it might damage the wall underneath which could make it become expensive. However you can see seams under the current paint layer in spots so I don’t want this to all peel off over time.

The house was built in 1950 and I’m planning on painting with Sherwin Williams Emerald type Matte finish.

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  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. It's going to be tough for us to guess as to the likelihood of problems from removing the wallpaper. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 21:48
  • A house built in 1950 most likely has plaster and lath walls, not wallboard/drywall so you should be OK getting the walls wet. So long as you're not soaking with a fire hose, you're unlikely to get them wet enough to damage.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:49

3 Answers 3


Oh boy!!! You definitely want to remove the wallpaper. Paint over wallpaper just doesn't work. You'll never know when it will just start to bubble up. I just removed all the wallpaper in my living room and used hot water in a spray bottle with some "DAWN" dishwater soap squirted into the bottle. Sprayed the walls, let it soak for 5-10 minutes and peeled it off the walls. I had no damage to the walls. Then had to go over it a few times to get all the paste off the walls. It's a messy job but you really need to do it. You really need to soak down the walls.

  • I also used to use hot water but I used jet dry the surfactant you add to dishwashers to reduce spots. Not sure if it will make much difference but no soap residue. My wife bought a ladybug steamer and I used that on my last wall paper job 3 layers came off quickly, but I used hot water for many years with great results (the soap or jet dry breaks the water tension so it soaks in and loosens the glue much better than plain hot water). +
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 13:42
  • @EdBeal If I remove wallpaper again (maybe in my next life) I'll try the jet dry.
    – JACK
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:31
  • I don't think there's that much benefit to having the water be hot. Just lots of it, and leave plenty of time for it to soak in. Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:41

I have experienced the trials of removing painted wallpaper. It is an absolute pain. The general principal of wallpaper removal is to get the paste wet. As use can imagine paint makes a very good water repellant. There is a handy tool (wallpaper tiger) that perforates the paper allowing the liquid to soften the paste. But it is still a pain. I mention all this because eventually the paper is going to peel, bubble or lift under the paint. It is easier to remove 3 or 4 layers of plain paper than 2 layers, one of which is covered in paint. I would strip the walls as clean as you can. Patch or repair any loose or damaged spots, then paint. As far as what to use for a liquid there are products you can buy. As @Jack has stated there are home mixed products that claim to work. These include water and fabric softener, water and vinegar, and plain steamers are available for rent at hardware and home centers.


I would buy wallpaper which is matching the texture of the top layer and glue over it from corner to corner of the damaged area to have a nice new surface. Let it dry and paint the entire room.

  • except that the wallpaper that's already there is peeling up. New paper glued to this will start pre-peeled. I guess the advantage is that when it falls off, it should come off in large sheets instead of little flakes.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:50

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